LaPorte, Ind. The Indiana University Health LaPorte Hospital will be offering free heart screenings this month in recognition of National Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month.
The screenings come just weeks after LaPorte High School football player Jake West died during a practice from complications related to an undiagnosed heart condition.
"Sudden cardiac death is actually the most common cause of natural death in the United States," said Dr. Rishi Sukhija, a cardiologist with IU La Porte Hospital. "Around 250,000 to 400,000 people die of sudden cardiac death every year."
Students will be screened on a first-come, first-serve basis with an emphasis on reaching student athletes.
"Sometimes it happens in young people particularly athletes," Sukhija said. "When it happens in young people generally there is a hidden undiagnosed heart cause that leads to sudden cardiac death, and hopefully with this screening can prevent sudden cardiac deaths in young athletes and young people."
The screenings are offered to area high school students, ages 15 and older, on select dates between Thursday, Oct. 17 and Saturday, Nov. 2. For more information, or to schedule a screening, call 219.326.2626. The screenings take about 15 minutes to complete and include an electrocardiogram and limited echocardiogram.
The specialists tried a similar program about two years ago but there was student participation. With the Jake West tragedy still fresh, this time around things appear to be different.
"We just did the press release this morning and we've already got seven or eight people scheduled and it hasn't even hit the papers," said Doug Hynek, clinical team leader at IU LaPorte Hospital.